Resource Constraints Choke QECH Stroke Unit; A Year On

Resource Constraints Choke QECH Stroke Unit; A Year On

Imagine you are at the comfort of your home on what you anticipated to be a peaceful night, and you receive a phone call only to be informed that your loved one has fainted.

That is what a Blantyre Resident Rhoda Maganga, once a guardian to 29-year-old Alefa Chisese who battled stroke in June 2022 and was later discharged in September the same year experienced.

"I was just informed that my child has fainted and she was at BCA by then. I started off very early the next morning and I followed her to the hospital where she was rushed to," Maganga recalls seeing her last-born daughter in an unconscious state.

"She couldn't speak or eat, she was unconscious and they had put pipes in her nostrils so that her body at least gets some water and food," she added.

Her daughter Alefa, was diagnosed with stroke. Stroke is a medical condition which is triggered when blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced and to stroke patients, the impacts are devastating as they either result in death or disability.

Stroke patient support does not only have an effect on the patient, it is a condition that brings a toll on family members and medical practitioners.

In most instances of such nature, family members, usually especially from low income countries like Malawi, anticipate the worst, but Alefa fought the battle thanks to the expertise and personnel at Blantyre's Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) Stroke Unit.

According to Alefa, she only has sketches of her ordeal but her condition has significantly improved.

"I am told I was unconscious for two weeks, and when I woke up I needed special care because I could not do anything on my own but look at me now, i am back on my feet," she said.

The stroke unit at QECH is the sole government facility offering such services in the country and was set up through a partnership between the University College London and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. The partnership saw massive response for collaboration from partners notably the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust.

Since its opening in May 2022, the hospital has served 85 patients. Out of the 85, five did not make it, and 80 survived.

In most instances, stroke occurs when people are in their 40's or 50's but in Malawi, stroke has not spared the youth, middle aged and the aged.

Despite these success stories, the stroke unit is choked as it has inadequate human resources, according to Meclean Chingwalu, senior nurse officer at QECH.

"The unit is supposed to have a 1:1 ratio which we haven’t achieved and we have been having temporary nurses who we do not see them stay," she says.

Chingwalu observes green pastures as an attributing factor to the challenge at hand.

However, the medical practitioners through teamwork have throughout managed implementable care protocols to facilitate holistic care for patients with stroke.

According to the United Nations Development Goals (SDGs), healthy lives and the promotion of the well-being of people including Non Communicable Diseases, which stroke falls into is a priority goal and given the circumstance, the government of Malawi is aware of the situation.

Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Health Dr Samson Mndolo told Zodiak Online that government is looking into the issue.

"We are discussing that and we are going to recruit. The new financial year has just started but we are going to recruit. If you ask me on the exact date i can't say but plans to recruit are in progress," he said.

Statistics according to the 2022 journal of global health report indicate that stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Malawi, thus after HIV/AIDS, respiratory tract infections and malaria.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 16/05/2023

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